Howard says let people die at home
Hospitals are not always good at recognising or dealing with people who are terminally ill, former Conservative party leader Michael Howard said, calling for patients to be allowed to die at home or in hospices.
Lord Howard of Lympne told the Daily Telegraph he would like to pass away at home with family around him, as his father did almost 50 years ago, rather than in a hospital.
The peer was made chairman of the Help the Hospices charity in 2010 and will today announce a drive to launch pilot schemes where hospitals and hospices work together to help terminally ill patients who want to be discharged.
In a speech just before taking up his role with the charity Lord Howard said of his father's death: " He died at home and was wonderfully cared for in his last days by a dedicated group of nuns whose selflessness far exceeded any praise I could bestow on them."
The current setup, whereby dying people are cared for on hospital wards is not appropriate, Lord Howard told the Daily Telegraph, describing it as having become the default option.
"Most people don't want to die in hospital," he said. "Their focus, understandably, is on curing people. They are not always good at recognising when somebody can't be cured and needs palliative care.
"Even when it's recognised they are not very good at providing palliative care because they are not properly equipped to deal with people who aren't going to get better."
The 73-year-old said hospitals should be a last resort for terminally ill people, and added that if more people were allowed to die at home or in hospices it would take some of the strain off the NHS.
The hospice charity is asking the Government for £500,000 to run the pilot schemes across the UK.